Craig Entering this year's 4A state diving championships in Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs resident and Moffat County High School diver Genna Bradley just wanted to make the top 16. Each time she has competed at a Front Range meet in her short two-year career, Bradley said, she has been intimidated, nervous and even scared.
Now, the Front Range is going to have to be scared of her.
Bradley progressed farther than she ever has Saturday, when it counted the most. The 28th-ranked diver heading into prelims Saturday morning, Bradley started to climb and made the cut into the top 20.
The field was then cut to 16 for the final round, and again, Bradley made it.
When everything was said and done, the sophomore finished seventh - the highest finish by an underclassman at the event.
"I'm just speechless," Bradley said. "Each year, I'm getting better. I keep climbing, and that makes me really excited for the next few years. I'm already thinking about next year."
Bradley finished with 371.95 points, more than 50 points more than the next closest sophomore.
Her pre-dive routine was a little different, and so were her dives.
She closed herself off from the competition by doing handstands in the corner under the stairs in the Colorado State University Edora Pool and Ice Center. She listened to "Tricky" by Run DMC, trying to "get pumped up" and drown out the crowd noise.
Once suitably prepared, Bradley constantly controlled tight dives with high degrees of difficulty, rather than settle for easier dives to impress judges.
"I always go for the higher stuff," she said. "A six on the judges card when I do a dive with a 2.4 degree of difficulty scores higher than, say, an 8 or 8.5 on a 1.5 D.D. dive. I like the more difficult stuff."
She's had all winter to work on her routine. Bradley qualified for the state competition Dec. 8 in Moffat County's first meet at Montrose High School.
"I've worked hard to get where I'm at," she said. "And I'm going to keep on working. They better all watch out for me next year."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org